Why the WNBA is disrespected: one view

Last week I was having a twit-versation with my new friend Kevin Watson. He asked me why I thought women’s basketball doesn’t get the respect it deserves. I said: 1. Because men don’t like to think women can do something they can’t in sports. 2. Female basketball players play rough and don’t run around half naked, like they do in some other sports. 3. The NBA has become more about showmanship and stunts than the fundamentals of basketball, so the average sports fan now sees fundamental basketball as “boring.”

Kevin agreed with all of that, and he had an additional spin on the issue. I told him that if he wanted to write something, I’d print it. Unlike dozens of others who I’ve made the same offer to, Kevin produced a column. Below is his view of the American perspective on the WNBA. These opinions don’t necessarily reflect mine.

– Sue Favor

Hello, I am Kevin Watson. I’m a 25-year-old male who happens to be Black, and I’m an avid lover and player of the beautiful game of basketball.

For the last five years of my life I have grown very frustrated and upset at how mainstream America treats the WNBA. I have asked around and gotten many different perspectives as to why there is a strong dislike for the women’s game in some circles. My experience may not be the same as others’, but I can only go by what I have heard, seen and personally experienced.

I believe that the dislike for women’s sports is more than a surface-level issue. I believe part of it stems from things that were engrained in our culture at its founding time. The Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal.” I find this ironic since at that time, slaves were counted as a half a person. Also, the only people who were allowed to vote were white men who owned property.

Has America came far since its inception? Yes I believe we have. But I feel we must not ignore the division that is still within our country now, which I believe started hundreds of years ago as our nation was founded.

You may ask, “How is this relevant in women’s sports today?” It is relevant in many ways. First I believe that our nation has always been taught to view women as second-class citizens. Also, our country has a famed history of its unbelievably bad treatments of Blacks. These things, added in with ignorance, contributed to people’s views on women’s athletics today.

Throughout American history for Blacks, women have had to play an incredibly large role in the family unit. During slavery, the master would often find the biggest male he had and would tar and feather him, whip him to near death, and ultimately kill him. This was done to teach two things: first, that the man could not be relied upon to to take care of the family, and secondly, so that slave women would teach their sons to be submissive to the master so as not to receive the same treatment. This created a generational norm in which Black women have to essentially play a superhuman role to the family. This to me shows, that women have the strength now do anything a man can do. They have had to play this role, so I believe to ignore this strength is an injustice.

The WNBA is made up of mostly Black American females. There are some superstar players who are not Black, such as Elena Delle Donne, Lindsay Whalen, Diana Taurasi, Lauren Jackson, Sue Bird and Katie Douglas just to name a few. But when it comes to basketball, for both men and women, Black people typically dominate it. I believe this is where a major disconnect lies with regard to discrimination against women in sports. This is not a new found revelation, but one that American history has shown us to be true.

In the Black community sports is often an outlet, and it is seen as a means to a better life. When it comes to Black athletes, I believe the stakes are greater when it comes to playing and pursuing a sports career. Often in our poor neighborhoods, nothing is made of education or a pursuit of things better. But sports and music are viewed as a possible way out of the ‘hood. Unfortunately it is viewed, at times, as the only way out of poverty. Black people also view sports as our way to level the playing field. The highest-up people in our society are white males. So when it comes to athletics, this is a place where we can rub it in, where whites aren’t dominating completely.

Because sports are so important to my community, we often rally around anyone who has the potential to become a great player. There is rarely a division between men and women’s sports to Black people. To us one person winning or making it, is all of us making it. I find this to be amazing since the culture of our history as a nation, has always been one that promotes division.

In my experience, Black people love the WNBA. I have grown up with the league. As I traveled all over the nation to play basketball myself, I have asked people’s thoughts and opinions of the league. I have never – and I will repeat NEVER – heard a black person who is a basketball fan say anything negative about women’s basketball. But I have seen completely grown men get excited! I have seen men try to even emulate some of the moves that they have seen professional women players do!

My experience with the White culture has been very different, though. I played basketball myself at very small, almost all-white school. When I asked them how they liked the WNBA, some of the answers I heard were: “It’s too slow,” “they miss too many layups,” “there are not enough dunks,” “those women are gay,” and “I can do the things she can do.” My response was, “have you watched a game?” They would always say no, and I would fire back, “Angel McCoughtry is your height and she is stronger than you, quicker than you, can dunk, and she would beat you one on one.” They were always shocked.

The most interesting story I have is this: one time at an open gym, our local sports writer for the newspaper attended. It was during the 2011 WNBA finals, and all of me and my Black friends were stoked! Seimone Augustus and Angel McCoughtry were playing out of their minds! The reporter asked “why the hell are you guys talking about that boring shit?” We obliged him to watch a game so he would understand the excitement. The next game, McCughtry scored 38 points and Augustus had 36. At our next open gym, his outlook was completely different because he had watched the game. He admitted to us that he had never watched the WNBA before, but now he had to change his prior opinions.

A white friend and I were arguing about basketball in March. He said that you couldn’t call a women player elite because she can’t do what the Kobe’s, Lebron’s, and Durant’s of the world do. I rebutted that elite is a category that classifies an athlete or person who has achieved incredible success at a high level in their field or sport. Elite is not regulated to one or two people who are the absolute best in their field. After much debating, he agreed he would say they were elite, but only for a women.

So I decided to end the argument with this: I told him to guess the player I was describing, and I would only describe them using their credentials. I said: two-time gold medalist, multi-all star, and has won two championships. He went through many names, and the conclusion was that I was describing Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat. That was a great answer, but I was talking about Delisha Milton-Jones – a WNBA legend who has accomplished am incredible amount in her career. I had to show him that women do accomplish just as much as men do when it comes to basketball at it’s highest level.

The last reason I can’t take disrespect for the WNBA, is because of how much is expected from these women. Female professional players play ALL YEAR ROUND. Most casual fans of basketball do not understand this. These women rarely get a break from basketball. As soon as their overseas seasons end, the WNBA training camp starts. Sometimes their seasons overlap! These women compete at the highest level ALL the time, with no breaks. This is incredible.

Many NBA players miss significant time during the season with injuries. The ones who don’t and play through injuries get praised mightily by fans and the media. Almost every professional basketball-playing women deals with this their year-round reality daily, and nothing is made of it. They are ironwomen in their own right. I believe there needs to be more praise given to women for their incredible committment.

Ultimately I believe that women are capable of doing what men can do. Does this mean the product will always look the same? No, it does not. But that does not make one product any less valuable than the other.

To recap, I believe the WNBA is disrespected because culturally and historically, Black women have been undervalued. The WNBA is mainly made up of black women, and mainstream white America doesn’t give it a fair chance. No I do not believe that White people are blatantly racist. But I do believe there are apparent racial undertones that we must not ignore. If you feel I’m crazy get on twitter and look at how Britney Griner is treated. Look at comments made about the WNBA and it’s product. I am guaranteeing you they will be offensive. I am also guaranteeing that most of those individuals have never seen a game.

I am passionate about the game of basketball, no matter the gender, race, age, or height of the individual playing it. I ask that others take their personal blinders off so they can as well grow to appreciate all aspects of the game. I hope you take this journey with me in the future, so that the WNBA and it’s product can be seen for what it is, which is an amazing assortment of athletes from all over the world, playing the game they love with passion.

Kevin Watson lives in Illinois. He played college basketball and currently works as a basketball trainer with youth. His twitter handle is: @ba11islife24.

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37 COMMENTS

  1. These comments are so spot on. For the first time I am seeing my thoughts in print, as to why the WNBA is so disrespected.I have witnessed so great basketball this past season in the WNBA and to think these women HAVE TO PLAY YEAR AROUND makes it even more awesome. And to think these women HAVE TO BE VERSATILE to just last in this league. There's no 3-pt specialist or all-offense players, you have to almost do it all or you're outta here.

  2. support & LOVE wnba since inception. growth of fan base WILL develop over time. must keep doin the right things as well as look to innovative promotional activities & goals. i believe wnba should reach out to boys & the entire male population thru clinics as well as school visits. target boys and girls…and keep sharing the passion & spreadin bball love.

  3. While playing the race and / or gender card is expected in a forum like this a few objective observations are in order.

    1) No one is forcing WNBA ballers to play year round. They do it because they want to. EDD has already stated that she won't play overseas this offseason. The WNBA season is less than half the length of the NBA season. If there was enough fan interest and paid attendance to play a longer season and pay W ballers more they would already be doing it. There isn't. Any of these women ballers could take alternate employment in the offseason in the States and put less stress on their bodies. They ball overseas for the money, period. I'm fine with that, but let's not make martyrs out of them because they decide to go for the bucks.

    2) Playing in Europe isn't something that just happened with women's basketball. Second tier ballers that can't make it in the NBA have been going overseas to either prolong their entry into adulthood or prepare for the best pro ball, which happens to be played in the U.S. for many decades. This isn't new.

    3) Regular attendance in the W this season was the third lowest in the history of the WNBA. 2012 & 2013 represent two of the lowest three seasons for average attendance in the history of the league. As of today through fourteen playoff games this year’s average attendance is 6970 fans, which is 7.4% below the already near record low for the regular season. Three of the lowest four games in attendance this season have been contested in the playoffs within the past couple weeks. Given Atlanta's proven history of the lowest attendance in the league it's safe to assume that these finals will be among the least watched in the history of the league. It is what it is.

    4) At the end of the day there are plenty of women and / or black folks here in the States that if they cared enough about the WNBA could make it successful. The truth is that the majority of folks in these "protected class” segments are clearly not interested enough in the WNBA to drag it to popular or financial success. This of course is what results in fashionably blaming white dudes because they don't want to watch or respect the W.

    5) This PC myth that white guys want to watch barely clothed women balling or that the W somehow plays a superior brand of “basic basketball” are both myths. If the quality of the ball warrants it true fans will watch. If there is an expectation that just because the ballers are women or black that the flaws in the offering will be ignored then W “true believers” are going to be disappointed. You don’t deserve a fan base because you are female, black or “work really hard”. In a professional sport you deserve success and a fan base if you offer a compelling product that represents a true value versus the other sports offerings out there. Given that WNBA average attendance is down by over 30% from its peak in 1998 it is clear that they continue to miss the mark.

    In closing I would add that the fact the recent Taurasi / Augustus “kiss video” on YouTube has over 7.1 million views as of this writing which clearly indicates the W has a serious, big time image problem. WNBA.com doesn’t have that many views on all of their videos ever posted combined. There isn’t enough basic fan interest in their basketball product and the W has had three successive commissioners who have all somehow managed to do more poorly than their predecessors. It’s hard to see over the top of the challenge at this point.

  4. By way of reference the Major League Baseball playoffs are just getting under way. All of the teams are charging a premium for playoff tickets. The premium amount ranges from a low for Detroit of +70% to a staggeringly high top end of a +697% premium for Cleveland. Link is attached if anyone is interested.

    I'm not saying that ticket prices this high are a good thing but it does reflect a healthy interest in the league that increases considerably during the playoffs.

    This is why the W playoff attendance trend is so counterintuitive and should be so concerning for those that believe the league should be able to succeed.

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/where-baseball-playoff-tickets-cost-most-least-2013-10-02?siteid=rss&rss=1

  5. This is from Kevin Watson:

    Thank you sir for reading the article. All critical feedback is very appreciated and important. I would also tell you that if you do not like the spin of the articles written you can always feel free to not visit the site or comment on the articles.

    Everything you said in the article was true sir. Thank you for all of the extensive research that you did. But all that was to prove my point! You reiterated everything I said! The WNBA should be getting promoted better. They should have higher tv numbers. Why aren't the WNBA finals being talked about more on espn! Why aren't more WNBA games shown during the summer? These things need to be addressed? Are you telling me that men and women basketball players get the same treatment? Women do the same things and accomplish the same feats but they do not get the same respect. This is not okay. They work just as hard. I find it very distasteful that the things they do can go unnoticed and even be mocked. They have earned respect and I will not rest until more light is shed unto these issues.

  6. Burn Brother, aka Greg:

    1. They do have to go overseas to play for the money because they don't make enough money to live on from WNBA salaries.If you're a pro player and you love the game, you only have a limited number of years to play. They love it, so they go play across the waters.

    2. No one ever said playing in Europe was a female-only thing.

    3. You are obsessed with attendance, in light of the numerous posts you have made/attempted to make on the subject. I would ask why, but then you'd try to subject us all to another one of your long-winded responses. So I won't ask.

    4. If you think women and people of color are in protected classes, you're even more ignorant than I thought you were in the first place. You are one of those white dudes who like to say there's no racism, and that women are treated equally. How convenient for you.

    5. Again, you misread and/or misinterpreted the comments so suit your world view. Nowhere did Kevin nor I say that white men want to see half naked female basketball players.

    6. The Taurasi/Augustus incident has nothing to do with this discussion, and wasn't part of it in the first place. I've told you before, Greg: don't try to bring your homophobic view on to this website.

  7. I love the game of basketball. And I just want to thank Sue for the opportunity to articulate my views and thoughts to the world. We are not where we need to be yet when it comes to equality. By pretending we are we are doing ourselves, the people around us, and future generations a major injustice

  8. Also just for future reference. There will not be any hate or verbal abuse happening here. We are here to bring light to the issue, which we realize will spark some emotional responses, but adults have to be able to articulate themselves in a healthy way. Failure to do such shows the lack of an ability to think critically.

  9. Greg,

    Kevin spoke of hate and verbal abuse because I shared with him several of the comments you have tried to post here, and which I've rejected. In those comments you have personally insulted me, called me names, have called female basketball players names, have made unfounded characterizations, allegations and stereotypes. All this while trying to pass it off as intelligence and support of women's basketball. Kevin couldn't believe what you had written. This resulted in his comment to you.

    I have declined to publish your comments this morning, and will continue to do so. I will not approve anymore future comments that you make. You are free to find another site to peruse and post your comments, but they will not see the light of day here.

    Sue

  10. Kevin —

    Spot on in so many respects. I really do think there's a reflexive hatred of women's sports in the white community; oh, it's fine for my daughter to play them, but women playing for actual money? People actually watching them? That's just silly. I don't get it, and I never will, but it's there in every guy who feels the need to state, over and over again, how the WNBA is totally not worth his time.

    As for the league itself, Burn Brother, its television ratings are up double-digits and its attendance is moving in the right direction (and not for nothing, but these are more solid attendance numbers than in years past). Moreover, gate revenue is up significantly. The Indiana Fever turned a profit this year, the Minnesota Lynx have for the past three years, and the Connecticut Sun have been for the past few. With the influx of revenue from Boost Mobile and the new ESPN contract, it's likely that the league has reached a point where it is going to be at least breaking even. And attendance is all but guaranteed to go up next year when the Liberty are able to play in Madison Square Garden again, instead of New Jersey.

    In short, all signs are that the WNBA has reached a point of stability, and indeed, that it's drawing increased national interest.

    Oh, and as for this —

    By way of reference the Major League Baseball playoffs are just getting under way. All of the teams are charging a premium for playoff tickets.

    Yeah. That's fairly typical. I know, because the WNBA playoffs have been in gear for a while, and the Minnesota Lynx are charging a premium for playoff tickets. It was about 20 percent in the first round, and it's about 80 percent for the Finals. If teams being able to jack up prices for the playoffs is the measure of a successful league, then the WNBA is officially a success.

  11. The WNBA isn't respected as much as I think it should be either. yet to me race has very little to do with it. how much respect did women's basketball get before the ncaa? they fought against title ix.

    It took over 100 years for any womens professional basketball league to last more than 3 years.

    It has a long ways to go but has made strides. I am a white male and when my son was growing up his heros were Michael jordan and Carolyn Jones. it was about basketball. not about gender..not about race or anything else. it was about the game.

  12. This piece makes my point:

    http://www.thenation.com/article/162390/sex-sells-sex-not-womens-sports

    Offensive as this portrayal may have been, it came as no surprise to sports-media scholars. Over the past three decades we have amassed a large body of empirical evidence demonstrating that sportswomen are significantly more likely to be portrayed in ways that emphasize their femininity and heterosexuality rather than their athletic prowess. Study after study has revealed that newspaper and TV coverage around the globe routinely and systematically focuses on the athletic exploits of male athletes while offering hypersexualized images of their female counterparts.

    These findings are no trivial matter. Scholars have long argued that a major consequence of the media’s tendency to sexualize women’s athletic accomplishments is the reinforcement of their status as second-class citizens in one of the most powerful economic, social and political institutions on the planet. In doing so, media images that emphasize femininity/sexuality actually suppress interest in, not to mention respect for, women’s sports.

    • Thank you for elaboration Sue! I def feel that women keep being reinforced that they are second class citizens. I only wanted to give my perspective and that is that color plays some part. But I do think for the most part it is the fact that they are women

  13. I agree with you, John Molina, that it's all about gender and has very little to do with race. As you referenced, Title IX is only 41 years old. Even after its inception, there was so much resistance (read the first part of Pat Summitt's autobiography for a good feel of what the atmosphere was like for female athletes and coaches). What we find today is remnants of that opposition. Sports – and especially women's sports – tend to be a refuge from racism.

    I still stick with my original views, that 1. Men don't like to think women can perform sports feats that they can't. I heard one such comment just tonight. 2. Women are sexualized instead of praised for their athletic accomplishments (see above link to story). 3. The NBA is about dunks and other stunts that weren't originally part of the game, so fan expectation is now skewed towards that.

  14. Many thanks, Mr. Watson, for your passionate and insightful article. Many thanks, Ms. Favor, for your important comments. For reasons that will become clear in the next paragraph, I want to identify myself as White and male.

    I don't want to take much time to deal with the predictable and tedious attacks that have been launched. I'll just mention one specific statement posted above. Burnbrother begins his long response by suggesting that he is going to offer some "objective observations." I always beware anyone, in most cases someone male, who pompously begins by suggesting that HE is "objective" whereas those with other views aren't. Oh, and I shouldn't forget how he dismisses playing "the race and/or gender card." Which of course White boys would NEVER do, though White boys are comfortable enough with the still dominant realities of male supremacy and White supremacy.

    In 1974, I began teaching pro-feminist classes on "Men, Masculinity, and Sexism" at Queens College in New York City. Someone told me that Queens College had one of the best women's basketball teams in the U.S. I was a devoted basketball fan (the great era for the Knicks) but had never seen women's basketball before on any level. I decided I should take a look. When I went to my first game, I was stunned. The players were SO much better than I'd expected. I realized that all I could do was shine their shoes. Their talent made me see a slice of my own sexism that I'd never faced before.

    I became a huge fan of the team. In 1975, I saw the first-ever women's basketball game at Madison Square Garden. Queens lost to national champion Immaculata. I had the Queens coach and a few players come and speak at one of my classes on sexism in sports, the pressures on women athletes, and the conflicts they faced. I've been a fan of women's basketball ever since.

    One of the things that Mr. Watson has exactly right is that most of the men who put down women's basketball have never SEEN women's basketball. They spout stupid sexist prejudices. Sometimes, I suspect, they don't even believe what they're saying, but know that to look "manly" this is what they'd better spout. But Mr. Watson is also correct that racism is a very real factor in disdain for women's basketball.

    It is threatening to most men on about 100 different levels that women are strong and competent. And not simply mothers or sex objects. Because of our widespread pathology about "masculinity," it is even more threatening to most men that women are strong and competent IN SPORTS.

    Thanks again, Mr. Watson and Ms. Favor, for your extremely valuable words.

    • You are so correct man. On so many levels! Thank you for being real about your bogus presumptions at first. Once you took the blinders off you realized just what you had been missing. Thank you for being courageous! Thank you for taking a stand! I am humbled by the feedback my article has gotten. I need people to understand a minorities perspective. Nothing is more hurtful, than when people tell you that you are crazy and that your experiences aren't real. As a black person my reality is very different than even a white males. Most whites refuse to even acknowledge that these indifferences still exist. Thank you for your honest and your willingness to be open! Your words have encouraged me in a very real way!

    • Thank you, Mr. Watson, for your very kind words. I believe it is essential that those of us who are White/Anglo make every effort to hear the views of African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and Native Americans. Of course in a still racist society your experience is different from mine in some very important ways. How could it not be? For someone White to deny these differences is outrageous and callous. I'm sorry that there are some who've told you that you are "crazy" and that your experiences "aren't real." This is racist; there's just no other word for it.

    • HI, Kevin. Yes, I said it. I passionately believe that it's essential for members of dominant groups to speak out against injustices from which we benefit. Those of us who are White and Anglo should speak out against racism. Those of us who are male should speak out against sexism. Those of us who are heterosexual should speak out against homophobia. And so forth. It is wrong to leave all that difficult work up to the people who are targets of bigotry.

      I'd be happy to be in touch off this board. I'm not, however, on Twitter. I don't know any other way to send my contact information to you. I'd prefer not to post my contact info here since apparently at least one person has attempted to post ugly comments in this discussion. Any suggestions as to how to proceed? One thought: I sent an e-mail to Sue Favor earlier today. Sue–I would be grateful if you could pass along my e-mail address to Kevin. Many thanks.

  15. I'd like to add one more thing. Our culture's widespread pathology about "masculinity" is fully and inevitably intertwined with homophobia. And homophobia is surely a critical factor in resistance to and attacks on women's sports. In terms of women's basketball, homophobic bigots claim that many players are lesbians. And they're correct… but the bigots' homophobia is vile. Mr. Watson mentions the attacks on Brittney Griner. In my view, racism, sexism, and homophobia are all part of the ugly package in the sickening attacks on this outstanding athlete and courageous champion of LGBT rights.

  16. Good morning, Bob,

    Thank you for your comments. It is refreshing to hear from a more enlightened and evolved male perspective. That is what I am used to, having lived most of my life in the uber-educated Pacific Northwest.

    You are correct in what you said about males being threatened by strong and competent women. The poster BurnBrother/Greg showcased that well with his continual attacks on my character and intelligence.

    An acquaintance who works at my gym trains young male basketball players. Last night I asked him to break it down for me, as only a New Yorker would: why do males need to profess dominance over a female baller who is really really good? (I used the example of Delle Donne with him). He said it's an egotistical thing with men, that they need to feel they are better in sport. More enlightening was that he said the NBA is now based on very few fundamentals and incredible athleticism and tricks.

    "Of course women are more skilled fundamentally, but that's not what's most marketable now, due to what the NBA is now."

    That was precisely my point in this debate originally. Men's and women's pro basketball are two different games entirely now. The difference isn't as pronounced at the high school and college levels, which explains the drop off at the pro level.

    Thanks again for your comments, Bob. You give me hope for white men. *wink*

    • Haha I'm starting to love ya Sue! He gave you hope for white men! I'm laughing so hard to myself!!

      I think and love the point you made about women being more fundamentally sound.. There is no comparison in that area. Thank you for saying that again!

  17. Kevin, don't think I am denying the plague of racism in this society. Unfortunately, it rears its ugly head every minute of every day. But in this case, it is all about gender (in my opinion).

  18. Thanks, Sue, for your really nice response.

    In my view, when examining the dismissal of and hostility to women's sports it is impossible to separate sexism from homophobia. As for the specific case of women's basketball, I believe it's impossible to separate sexism, racism, and homophobia. And I believe that saying that one is more important than the others gets us into pointless and harmful debates. I'll go back to the example of Brittney Griner. Would it be meaningful to try to assess what proportion of the ugly attacks on Griner reflect sexism, what proportion reflect racism, and what proportion reflect homophobia? I don't think so.

    • Brittney gets so many unfair attacks.. We could talk about that forever. I hope she reads this article and knows so many people are for her. You are right it is hard to define and separate those lines.. But again Brittney Griner, is extremely and unfairly attacked. That hate MUST stop, because it unmerrited.

  19. There's no real definitive answer as to why women's basketball is still disrespected, but in the U.S., it's not the only one, as men and women's soccer has the same problem, as does women's hockey. A lot of this does have to do with gender, and some with racism, but most of the attitude is just plain stupidity, based on the notion of superiority and dominance. Call it chest thumping. Fans of opposing teams beating each other senseless in the stands, and on the rare occasion, dying, just because fans can't separate stupidity from competition. Why some people feel they "need to be stupid" on message boards and attempt to denounce other teams and/or sports they either hate or can't fathom is still a mystery to me and I wish the hardcore sports fans in the U.S. would learn to grow up.

    I am a white male in my mid-fifties, and I think women's basketball is a wonderful sport. It's very beneficial to women to have great sport activities to enjoy and participate in and it helps in their fitness regiment and the spirituality of a woman's inner peace of mind. I wish more women would embrace sports than they do now, and not just men's sports. I don't think women are encouraged enough to like or love sports as their husbands and sons do. Their purchasing power and disposable cash is just as viable as any man's and if they did spend the dollars on the WNBA (and other women's sports), the WNBA season could be longer, the teams could have full 12 player rosters, the players could be paid highter salaries and the players could play for why they really want to play in the U.S. in the first place. To play the sport they love in front of the family, friends and fans they love.

    In my opinion, I would like to see women change the way they look at the culture of sports and become better supporters of women's sports leagues. I truly believe men would follow if their significant other if their partner took an increased interest in sports like the WNBA. Going back to the money issue, there's always been the claim that women should be paid for the same type of work their male counterparts do. How can the WNBA players be paid similarly to NBA players when women aren't supporting the WNBA.

    We need to stop the stupidity regarding women's sports and we need to stop the bullying of women's sports, particularly on message board, chat rooms and in our work places. The media also needs to be shamed. Little to no coverage in the USA Today, Sports Illustrated, even in local newspapers, regardless of the fact that city has a WNBA team or not. (Wisconsin State Journal, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) How can girls in junior high and high school aspire to become pro athletes and fans of women's sports when the media doesn't report the stories of women's sports? The U.S. sport media is just as guilty of being bullies as any poster on a message board. They too, think it's perfectly fine to be stupid.

    Hope I made some sense of this senselessness of disrespect.

    Rich Z., Author, Janie & the Basketball

    • You made some AMAZING points! And I thank you so deeply for that! You are correct. They do not get any publication! Women should play a bigger role. But why would a woman be interested in women's sports, if she always hears how inferior their sports are to men's? I can't see more men liking sports because there significant other does.. Espn does a terrible job of promoting the WNBA and giving it any credit on sportscenter. I am a die hard Phoenix Mercury fan. In 2009 they played an incredible 5 games series against Indiana for the championship. I was APPALLED that sportscenter didn't even mention the championship! That is not okay. A champion would never go unmentioned on espn in men's sports. Also Carolyn peck reached out to me on twitter today, because she read my article. She said most people assume the woman's game sucks because it is not covered! That came from someone who works for espn! Thank you again for your feedback, and I appreciate you thinking critically about this issue.

  20. Sorry, but I see casting this issue in terms of "stupidity" or speaking of "senseless" as simply wrong. Systems of oppression–like sexism, racism, and homophobia–are designed to maintain the power and privileges of some people while keeping others subordinate. Yes, some of those who hold sexist, racist, and homophobic values are indeed stupid. But it's NOT stupid to want to maintain power and privilege. It's unjust, immoral, sickening, sometimes downright horrific. But not stupid.

  21. To Bob and Kevin,

    Bob. To clarify my position, I don't really care how many people don't like or even hate women's basketball. I just want the useless stupid comments made about women's basketball to stop. Boring, slow, not athletic as men, don't dunk, paint drying, any high school boys team can beat WNBA teams, etc. These comments are lies, they have no basis in facts or merit, and they are repeated sickenly over and over again, just to try and bully players and fans from enjoying their sport. The stupid commentary needs to end.

    Kevin. Thanks for your compliment. Yes, I do believe women should take more of an interest in sports, but not just women's sports, whatever sport that fancies their interest. But in terms of women's basketball, who are they listening to when they are told women's basketball is an inferior product and why are they believing those lies? You, I and other fans of WBB need them to listen to our opinion of the sport, then ultimately decide for themselves if this is a sport they want to follow and support. And again, the media had to take some of the blame for this, but speaking for myself, I need to keep telling the misinformed about my passion for women's basketball, and get them to see for themselves what I see in women's basketball. I'm trying with the books I'm writing and publishing, but I can't spread the word about this sport alone. We as fans need to get our message out to everyone else together. It's not just the league's problem, it's ours too.

  22. Richard–Thank you for clarifying your position. But, in my view, your extremely well-intentioned and admirable efforts can at best have very limited impact. It seems clear to me that you do NOT want to look at the politics of this issue and the way that sexism, racism, and homophobia affect attitudes toward women's basketball. Indeed, the heart of the problem here isn't "stupid comments," "lies," or people being "misinformed" about women's basketball. It's the deep and profound bigotries of our culture that inevitably poison attitudes toward women's sports. I don't believe you can counteract those poisoned attitudes simply by "spreading the word" about this great sport. It's essential to fight the deeper evils.

  23. Bob. I do what I can every day to stand against racism, sexism and homophobia. You don't know me well enough to make that accusation. When two co-workers were joking about Brittany being a man, I filed a sexual harassment claim against them. No one at my plant has talked about a women's basketball player like that since. I would like to use that experience one day in a future book I may write. Im still researching homophobia and how I may use it to explain it to young teenagers in a book without upsetting parents. I have a lot to write about. I'll be long dead before I could get everything I'd like to say. Please don't sit where you are and tell me I don't fight the politics of important matters. I do, even despite my own situation of debt, having no car to grt from place to place and homelessness. I just try the best I can in dividing my time accordingly.

  24. I'm sorry, Richard. What you've described just above is great. But I feel it's absolutely valid in a public forum to make conclusions about people based on the words they use. You posted two statements above, one of them quite long. You had plenty of room to address issues like sexism, racism, and homophobia. You didn't. You spoke again and again about "stupidity" and cast the problem in apolitical terms. I didn't think that was the right approach and I still don't. I wish you well in your political activism, your writing, and your financial struggles.

  25. My 2 cents not having anything directly to do with Bob and Richard's debate. Attitude toward the WNBA and womens sports in general will never go through a wholesale change. Not anytime soon. To me the league is a microcosm of how women in any profession are looked upon. The smart, assertive, athletic, strong-willed ones repel weak men. Those who are chosen for their looks and not their intelligence attract those same men. And when it comes to sexual orientation the disparity is widened even further. Unfortunately many of those men run Madison Avenue and the media and that means superstars like Catch, BG, Seimone Augusus, and Sylvia Fowles will never get the recognition they deserve except from a select few. You see the YouTube comments on virtually every WNBA clip. The common one: "That's a big ass kitchen" referring to the court and where women "belong". As long as human beings are insecure, ignorance will never cease. -WNBA Jones

  26. I agree with you, Richard, that women need to support women's sports better. I have blogged about this before. It's especially bothersome that young women don't do this more effectively.

    Bramwell, I agree with you, unfortunately. Just as we will not see the eradication of racism anytime soon, nor will we see the demise of sexism. I live the latter reality every day.

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